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This book offers an exciting new take on the relationship between law and power, exposing the delicate balance between great powers and small states that is necessary to create and enforce norms across the globe. The 1856 Declaration of Paris marks the precise moment when international law became universal, and is the template for creating new norms until today. Moreover, the treaty was an aggressive and successful British move to end privateering forever - then the United States' main weapon in case of war with Britain. Based on previously untapped archival sources, Jan Lemnitzer shows why Britain granted generous neutral rights in the Crimean War, how the Europeans forced the United States to respect international law during the American Civil War, and why Bismarck threatened violent redemption during the Franco-German War of 1870/71. The powerful conclusion exposes the 19th century roots of our present international system, and why it is as fragile as before the First World War.